Beto O’Rourke: ‘We must first fix this badly broken democracy’

Little Village is posting videos of all 19 speeches made by the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame celebration in Cedar Rapids, so readers can hear each candidate in his or her own words.

Beto O’Rourke about to take the stage at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame celebration in Cedar Rapids, June 9, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Beto O’Rourke started his speech at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame celebration by discussing that he is grateful for “this moment of truth for our country,” as he called it.

“The power and joy with which we meet this moment is something I’m grateful for, because we are all focused on the same goal for this country: defeating Donald Trump in 2020 and bringing this country together again in 2021,” the former Texas congressman said.

He also expressed his gratitude for what he’s learned from the people attending his town halls in Iowa on subjects ranging from the impact of the country’s foreign policy on Americans to the need for gun control to the challenges farmers are facing because of climate change.

During his first campaign stop in Cedar Rapids on March 15, the day after he declared his candidacy, O’Rourke said he would focus on listening as he traveled the state. O’Rourke explained that his approach to politics is grounded in his six years’ experience serving on the city council of his hometown, El Paso, during which he was in daily contact with at least some of the 80,000 people in his council district.

Speaking at the Hall of Fame, O’Rourke said in order to meet the challenges facing the country “and to follow the leadership and inspiration and guidance I’ve received here in Iowa, we must first fix this badly broken democracy.”

“That’s why at the heart of this campaign is a bold set of democracy reforms to repair our democracy,” O’Rourke told the audience at the Hall of Fame. “First, let’s bring tens of millions of our fellow Americans in through same-day and automatic voter registration. Next, let’s remove every barrier in place — a new voting rights act for this country, no more purges of the voter rolls or voter ID to keep people out. And let’s restore faith in this democracy by holding accountable those who invaded in 2016, and afterwards sought to cover up and obstruct the investigation afterwards.”

“If we do that, then I’m confident we will meet every single one of these challenges,” he continued. “And that forever after this country will be known not by our fears or by our differences, but by our ambitions and aspirations that we hold in common and this great democracy that can allows us to achieve them.”

It was another theme he stressed at the beginning of his campaign in March, although then he said those electoral reforms would have an even broader impact.

“Fix this democracy and we fix our country, and we can help in fixing the world,” he said.